8 Things your wedding makeup artist wants you to know

On what is only the most important day of your life, one wrong move can screw everything up. No pressure, right? Professional wedding makeup artists share helpful tips that could save you from a big mistake on your big day.

I had the pleasure of working as a wedding makeup artist for five years. I traveled on-site for wedding makeup consultations, bridal party makeovers, bachelorette party glam sessions and, of course, professional makeup application for the main event. I truly enjoyed making brides feel beautiful on a day where they deserved to be at the center of it all. But as any wedding makeup artist can tell you, working behind the scenes was hardly easy.

Things went wrong. Brides freaked out. And worst of all, makeup miscommunications sometimes led to unhappy clients. Hiring a professional can ease your mind if you don’t want to worry about getting your makeup just right on your wedding day. But in order to have the best wedding makeup experience, there are a few things you need to know in advance.

These industry wedding makeup artists reveal what it takes to make your special day a success:

1. Always schedule a trial

Always, always, always (did I say always?). Just like you would never buy a fancy car without taking it for a test drive first, don’t even think about booking a wedding makeup artist without seeing his or her talent displayed on your face. When I worked as a wedding makeup artist, I provided brides-to-be with a free makeup trial before booking. On those rare occasions when my work wasn’t a good fit, potential clients didn’t owe me a dime.

Liz Fuller of Makeup Artistry, Inc., adds, “Don’t hire a makeup artist whose work you haven’t seen. A makeup artist should have a portfolio (either a physical one or digital) or a website. You must see an artist’s work before you even make an appointment for a trial. How on earth do you know what a makeup artist’s style is if you haven’t actually seen it?”

2. Know what to look for

Your wedding makeup consultation with a potential makeup artist is kind of a big deal. Not only are you on the lookout for a skilled artist whose style you love but for an above-board professional with sanitary makeup application practices. Anjeh Bourne, five-year makeup artist with bridal experience, explains, “At the trial, pay attention to how sanitary and organized the makeup artist is.”

She continues, “If the artist is double dipping in cream-based makeup and using the mascara wand right out of the tube, then that artist is spreading germs with everyone like candy. Creams should be scooped out onto a palette or even the back of a sanitized hand. Disposable wands or a mascara fan brush should be used when applying mascara. Make sure the artist is taking pictures and writing down products used at the trial. The look has to be documented in some way so it can be recreated on the day of your wedding.”

More: 6 Tips for your wedding day makeup

3. Don’t be cheap

Ah, but deals are so tempting — especially when you factor in thousands of dollars blown in wedding expenses. Yet Bourne reminds all blushing brides that quality will cost you. A $50 makeup job may be enticing but is likely the sign of a green makeup artist with little experience.

Bourne says, “Makeup artists that are charging ridiculously low prices are usually just starting out, do not value themselves at a high standard and/or are very insecure about their work. Here in New York City, the average price of wedding makeup is $300 for the bride and $150 for additional people. Always remember the saying: You get what you pay for.”

4. Don’t hire your hairdresser

It makes sense to think that because your favorite hairdresser is a genius with the updo that they can handle your pretty face too. While most licensed hairdressers are trained in all aspects of cosmetology, including makeup, a skilled wedding makeup artist can give you customized application and one-on-one face time on the day of the event.

More: Makeup tips for your eye color, hair color and face shape

Fuller says, “I have had many clients tell me that they considered their hairdresser for their wedding day makeup application. If your hairdresser has makeup experience and it’s only the bride that needs makeup, perhaps. But if you have a bridal party and everyone is getting hair and makeup done, then it’s time to look for someone who just does makeup. The morning of a wedding is very busy and both hair and makeup take many hours to do.”

5. Prep your skin months before

If you truly want your wedding makeup to look as beautiful as possible, it’s going to require a little skin-vestment a few weeks in advance. Use the months leading up to your wedding as an excuse to pamper yourself and nourish your skin so that wedding makeup goes on flawlessly. James Cornwell of Iva Bella Salon in Northern Virginia advises, “Want to glow on your wedding day? Get facials at least once a month, three months out from the wedding date. Facials help relax you and get the skin into amazing shape!”

6. Be nice

It’s a well-known fact that your wedding day may be the most stressful day of your life, but take a beat (and sip some Champagne) before you go full Bridezilla on a well-meaning professional who is only there to help. Cornwell adds, “Ladies, on your wedding day your makeup artist is there to make you look and feel beautiful. Please be nice. Yes, we are hired to do a job, but you are only going to look beautiful when we can do our job without stress and interruption.”

7. Chill out on the booze

I may or may not have had one or more beautiful brides cry into their Champagne glasses as I tried to apply false eyelashes. Your wedding day is emotional, I get it. But please save the heavy drinking until after you say “I do” — and until you have more food in your stomach. Staying hydrated may cut down on unnecessary wedding day freak-outs and can also improve the quality of your skin. Cornwell cautions, “Drink water, not vodka! Try your best to drink equal parts hydration and your choice of alcohol leading up to your wedding day.”

8. Trust what your makeup artist tells you

This last point is perhaps the most important of all. It could make or break how you feel about your face hours into your ceremony. If you have chosen a wedding makeup artist you can trust, and if he or she gives you expert advice, take it. A professional is a professional for a reason.

Jennifer Trotter of Lip Service Makeup, pro makeup artist and beauty expert, concludes, “What works in magazines doesn’t work in real life, especially for weddings! Here are a few examples: In a magazine, ultra-dewy skin is gorgeous — in real life, if you start off dewy, you’ll look like an oil slick by the time your reception starts, and your makeup will slide right off! In a magazine, super glossy lips look so kissable — in real life, I never use gloss for weddings! It transfers, gets on your husband and on your teeth. Moisturized lips with a more matte lipstick will look better and last longer.”


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